I’ve been told that a good way to learn about lighting is to find pictures that you like and try to copy the lighting. And so today, after a trip to the grocery store and a morning in the kitchen, I attempted a copy of a picture I found in Martha Stewart Living. Here’s the original from the magazine, which accompanied the recipe for Berry Shortcakes with Whipped Cream Cheese (see the pic at the link, too).
I started with window light, but soon realized it would be beneficial to have more control of the light. I used dark fabric to block the window light and set up my flash on a tripod, connected to the camera using an off camera sync cord. I moved the light so it was coming from the side and angled it down toward the plate. The result was, predictably, very harsh. I held my homemade diffusion panel (frame of cardboard covered with very sheer fabric) as close to the plate as possible without it being in the frame. The last step was to add a fill card opposite the flash. I quite like the result.
Once I compared the two pictures side-by-side I noticed the highlights on the blueberries in the bowl in Martha’s picture are much brighter and were probably created with at least a second light. Add a second flash to my equipment wish list. And also add a set of PocketWizards, because the flash being connected to the camera was a limitation. You could also add a selection of eclectic bowls and flatware, but let’s not get crazy here.
The shortcakes were yummy (if overcooked by about 2 minutes) but the star was definitely the whipped cream cheese. So yummy, and lots of leftovers, too.